Not a week goes by without new progress being announced in the development of autonomous cars. For a long time, a lot was promised, but nothing came. We have been promised autonomous driving for years, and yet we are still waiting for it. Yet this technology, like all others, only follows the hype cycle as defined by analyst group Gartner. What begins with increasing visibility when a technological trigger first appears is quickly followed by exaggerated expectations that lead to disillusionment and disappointment. But then – when many have already written the technology up – it is suddenly there and practically applicable.
And that’s exactly what we’re seeing with robotaxis. I’ve been testing Cruise Robotaxis and FSD Beta on my Tesla myself for weeks, and the technology is mature or well on its way. And nothing underscores that more than the expansion of service areas and times that driverless robotaxi fleets are allowed to operate in cities like San Francisco and Phoenix. That’s because you need permission from the cities to do so. And that’s what Cruise and Waymo have now received.
Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt announced Thursday the approved expansion by the California DMV that will now allow Cruise robotaxis to cover the entire city of San Francisco – except for highways with high speeds – at any time of day or night, seven days a week. However, Cruise still needs another permit from the CPUC, which is responsible for taxi regulations, so that it can also charge fares throughout the area.
Waymo also had good news to announce. Waymo is now allowed to drive to the airport in Phoenix and take passengers to downtown Phoenix. Also in San Francisco, Waymo is now allowed to transport passengers at any time of the day or night throughout the city. Waymo is also awaiting final approval from the CPUC so that it can charge hauling fees.
Cruise, in turn, has two other announcements as a Christmas present: until the end of January 2023, each ride will cost only half as much, and all 8,500 students at the University of San Francisco will also be allowed to use the robotaxis, and even for free. And then very hot of the press, Cruise is likewise riding in Phoenix and did the first public rides in Austin.
The Last Driver’s License Holder Has Already Been Born
How the radical disruption of the auto industry affects you―and how you can prepare for the soon-to-be “new normal”
The combined effect of autonomous driving, electric vehicles, and the sharing economy is on the verge of changing the auto industry―all within the next decade. And this tech/economics revolution will touch virtually every industry.
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This article was also posted in German.